Phil Lara Owes Lots of People Lots of Money, This Time It's $33,000 to the Plain Dealer


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A face you can trust.
  • A face you can trust.

Phil Lara promised a revolutionary way to make money off the music biz. He’s been slightly less astute at delivering it.

The former proprietor of the shuttered Jigsaw Saloon has been ordered by a Cuyahoga County judge to pay The Plain Dealer $33,000 for unpaid advertising bills accumulated through March of last year. It’s just the latest of a growing list of debts few expect to see repaid anytime soon.

The Avon Lake native made a splash in 2007 when he revealed his grand formula, which consisted of snapping up rock clubs big and small, and luring big acts to town with the promise of hefty paydays, better catered food, and cheaply recorded live albums. Inexplicably, Coldplay and U2 didn’t bite.

Lara bought into the Jigsaw in Parma, followed by the Hi-Fi, Peabody’s, and the storied Agora, all in a matter of months. A year later, he was out of cash and his business associates were out of luck. The Jigsaw closed, leaving behind a string of unpaid employees, vendors, and debtors — including the Akron blues-rock band the Black Keys, who sued for $50,000 over two sold-out Agora concerts in December 2008.

Even your friends at Scene have a suit against Lara, for a much smaller chunk of change over advertising debts. (Lara’s rise and Whitesnake-like flameout were chronicled in the March 2009 Scene story “The Jig Is Up.”)

The burly entrepreneur was last seen in court in December, in connection with the Black Keys case. Calls to a phone number at Lara’s last listed address went unanswered. A Phil Lara Facebook page appears dubious in its provenance: His resume there claims he earned a degree in “How to Become a White Collar Criminal.” — D.X. Ferris

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